Google released the first developer preview of Android 12 yesterday, but the virtual Android environment on Chrome OS is still stuck on Android 9. Google has long been working on updating it to Android 11, though it looks like it's in the process of abandoning this endeavor. Instead, we found evidence that Google might be skipping ahead to version 12 right away.

A new entry popped up in the Chromium Gerrit a few days ago, and it's slowly becoming clear what's going on in it thanks to a few updates posted to it. It's concerned with adding an updated virtual Android machine to the Chrome OS testing environment, and from the looks of it, that machine will run Android 12, or Android S. This is what we can see in the entry:

Add android-vm-sc

TEST=build_packages --board=betty-arc-s

Let's break down these cryptic letters. In the top row, the "add android-vm-sc" can be translated as Google adding a virtual machine (VM) for Android 12 Snow Cone (SC), which is Google's internal code name for Android 12. The company develops Chrome OS using virtual machines, and when the company uses a Chrome OS VM that has Android app support enabled, it's codenamed "betty," which is what you see in the last line. Then there's "ARC," the Android Runtime for Chrome, appended by an "S" — the Android 12 code letter.

We also found additional evidence in the code. A few new lines have been added that show how Google is preparing a virtual Android 12 machine, mentioning "android-vm-sc" in addition to the existing Android 9 PI Pie (android-container-pi) and Android 10 RVC Red Velvet Cake (android-vm-rvc). That's as clear as it gets — Google seems to be laying a foundation to bring Android 12 to Chrome OS.

DESCRIPTION="Chrome OS SELinux Policy Package"

Google skipping a few Android versions on Chrome OS isn't unheard of, either. Back in the day, it went straight from Android 7.1 to 9, and while we assumed that the developers would make another two-version jump, it looks like Chromebooks are in for a three-version leap instead. But since Google has just launched the developer preview in the new Android version, it might still take more than a few months until we can get our hands on that updated Android container.


We've since learned that Google is currently rolling out Android 11 to a few Chromebooks, making the findings in this post moot. We came to the wrong conclusions and regret the error.

  • Source:
  • Chromium Gerrit (1),
  • (2)

Kent Duke contributed to this article.